Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Costumes for the Girl King

Last weekend, we made a short trip to Turku, the former capital and the oldest city in Finland. While we visited many lovely places there, the main attraction was Turku Castle. The castle is enormous and it hosts many exhibitions – if you're planning to visit, make sure to schedule enough time for it. Although we've been to the castle a few times before, four hours wasn't quite enough to tour the entire place! (And no coffee breaks, either!) Our almost-seven-year-old, who didn't remember her earlier visits, insisted we had to see everything. We, of course, we happy to oblige.

Our main interest, however, was the exhibition detailing the life of Queen Christina (1626 – 1689). She is a very interesting figure, who still remains somewhat controversial and mysterious. As the queen of Sweden, she received an extensive education. She slept very little and studied so hard that people worried about her health – but her hobbies were hunting and swordplay. It is said that she "walked like a man, sat and rode like a man, and could eat and swear like the roughest soldiers". She never married, but was rumoured to have a bunch of lovers, male and female. Her reign may not have lasted long (she abdicated her throne) or been particularly beneficial to the kingdom, but her interest in arts and philosophy made the court an important cultural centre of the time.

The exhibition features some items from the collection of Livrustkammaren (The Royal Armory) in Stockholm, but also props and costumes etc. from the movie “The Girl King” by Mika Kaurismäki. The film was shot in Turku and is scheduled to premier later this year. My husband already touched on some of these subjects in his blog, but he asked me to take a look at one topic: the costumes. If you know me, you know I don't care about clothes/trends/fashion/any of that (I have no problem wearing a dress/skirt/pants/top I bought 20+ years ago - it fits, I like it, I'll wear it), but there's something about period costumes that speaks to my inner princess and makes me want to play dress-up.

The costumes for "The Girl King" were designed by Marjatta Nissinen. In this article, Nissinen mentioned the challenges of the project: there are naturally no photos from the 17th century, and the main source of information are paintings. They, however, are always an artist's interpretation: one of the paintings used as a reference for costume design had incorporated costumes from four different periods!

I'm not familiar enough with the fashion of the 17th century to make any remarks concerning the authenticity of the costumes. I can only say that they look absolutely stunning! If you're interested in period costumes and/or Queen Christina, I recommend the exhibition, and if you can't make it (or even if you can), I also recommend watching the documentary titled "Dressing the Girl King".

And, finally, some pictures from the exhibition (click, and they shall appear in a larger form):


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